Galapagos April 20, 2010 (3 of 4): Snorkeling off Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela Island)

Galápagos Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas agassisi)

Not only did we do a Zodiac tour of the coast line and cave, but we also hopped in the water for some snorkeling in the calm, almost bay-like, shallows near the shore of Punta Vicente.

This particular area is well know for the vast number of Galápagos Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas agassisi) that hang out in the water. As there isn’t much in the way of sandy beaches, this spot didn’t really seem to be an attractive nesting grounds.

At least not for the turtles.

The flightless cormorants, penguins and other birds could be seen nesting all over the cliffs and rocky beaches.

Unlike other areas of the world, the turtles in the Galápagos showed no real fear of humans. They were perfectly content to float about.

However, there was one very absolutely strict rule; do not approach or touch the turtles. On the other hand, if a turtle decided to inspect you, that was OK!

Galápagos Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas agassisi)

And inspect they did!

While Roger and I were diving down to get a closer look at the ocean floor, we turned to our right and this rather grand turtle had swam right up to us for a closer look!

This particular turtle followed us around for a bit, getting within a couple of feet even though we were trying to keep our distance.

While an incredibly impressive creature, this particular snorkeling spot had much more to offer.

Frogfish (Antennariidae)
Roger Snorkeling

Fortunately, Roger was with me and was acting as spotter. Roger has an incredible ability to spot critters where no one else would ever notice.

In this case, Roger tugged on my arm and pointed to something hanging just below the surface of the water. I saw nothing and asked him what he was pointing at. “A fish, dad, there is a fish right there!”, Roger said.

Uh, no… I just see some floating seaweed. Until I looked closer.

Sure enough, there was this little tiny bulbous fish.

I wish I had a better capture, but this was as good as it got. This little Frogfish was floating a couple of inches below the surface and was tiny; less than the size of a dime!

When I asked one of our ever-friendly naturalists for an identification, she responded with great excitement and immediately grabbed a couple of her colleagues! Turns out that she had been looking for this particular fish for nearly a decade with no luck!

Though his reputation was already pretty well sealed, it was from that particular find on that pretty much everyone came running when Roger would said “Hey! Look what I found!!!”.

Flightless Cormorant (Phalacrocorax harrisi) Right Next To UsFlightless Cormorant (Phalacrocorax harrisi) Right Next To Us

Of course, while snorkeling in these rich waters, there was a pretty steady stream of birds swimming or flying by as they hunted down dinner.

While snorkeling, one of our party made commotion behind us and pointed. When Roger and I turned around, there was a Cormorant quite literally directly between us! That yellow bit in the background is Roger’s floatation vest; Roger was maybe three feet away.

The swimming feet photo reminds me of this song.

Pufferfish (Tetraodontidae)

The critters weren’t just amongst the rocks or right at the surface.

We ran into this particular Pufferfish (Tetraodontidae) several times while snorkeling in this area.

What isn’t apparent from a still picture is that some pufferfish are quite adept at changing their skin color to match the nearest background. In this case, Mr. (Mrs?) Puffer has assumed a rather flat coloration. As it approached the bottom, the back would become dark enough that the spots would almost disappear!

This particular spot was just full of life. A whirlwind tour follows….

Green Sea Urchin (Lytechinus semituberculatus)

There were, of course, plenty of the green sea urchins. Nowhere near as many as we had or would see in other places, but ever present, certainly.

Galapagos Reef Octopus (Octopus oculifer)

While looking around the various tumbles of rocks, I spotted (one of the very few that Roger didn’t spot first!) this Galapagos Reef Octopus hiding under a rock.

I bet that is a magnificent creature when out and about.

Octopus, however, are largely nocturnal critters.

Crab Underwater

Roger did find this crab.

Neither of us could figure out if it was alive.

We both agreed that the bright crab against the dark volcanic sand made for a stunning image.

King Angelfish (Holacanthus passer)

Like the sea urchins, the king angelfish were quickly becoming ubiquitous companions in the water.

In this spot, they were huge and there were many.

Blue Footed Booby Takes off

When Roger and I were about ready to climb back into a zodiac to head back to the boat, we heard a loud splash and saw a stream of bubbles literally within a couple of yards of our faces.

A blue footed booby had dove into the water from great height and descended to about 40 feet below us!

The bird then surfaced, wolfed down its caught meal, and took off. While I couldn’t snap a photo of the dive (silly bird actually surprised the heck out of me! I was in no condition to take a photo!), I did grab this snap of the bird heading off into the distance with the Endeavor in the background.

A fitting end to a great morning of touring this spectacular and magical spot. Morning?! Yes. Still only the morning! There was still another rather epic adventure ahead after lunch!

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